Monday, June 14, 2010


The Chinese used black pepper to cure cholera, Europeans used it as currency, and Attila the Hun demanded 3,000 pounds of it in exchange for discontinuing his sacking of Rome

Hackysack was invented in 1972 by John Stalberger as a game to help him rehabilitate his knee, which he injured playing football

King Louis XIV was so afraid of weapons that he ruled all pointed knives at dinner tables illegal

Duct tape was developed in 1942 for use by the U.S. Army as a waterproof sealing tape for ammunition boxes

The North Pole is not considered a continent like the South Pole because the ice of the North Pole floats on the ocean, while the ice of the South Pole sits on actual ground – the continent of Antarctica

Gilbert L. Loomis of Westfield, Massachusetts, was the first American to purchase an auto insurance policy in 1897

The first person to successfully go over Niagara Falls in a barrel was 63 year old Annie Taylor, a former school teacher who needed money and thought that she would achieve fame and fortune if she was successful at the stunt - She did not become famous or receive any money, and died destitute about 20 years later
Whiskey is clear when it is first distilled - It gets it’s color and much of it’s taste from the oak barrels in which it is aged

The tune to “Happy Birthday” was written by church organist Mildred Hill as a welcome song for schoolchildren; it was originally published as “Good Morning to All”

The black pirate flag known as the “Jolly Roger” was originally a bright red French surrender or die banner known as the “Jolie Rouge”

Nearly $40 billion in U.S. coins are currently in circulation

About one in every 30 Americans births results in twins

During sleep, fluid in the body tends to pool in low-lying areas, which is why many people wake up with noticeable bags under their eyes

The first ferris wheel was built by a man named George Ferris in 1893 for the Chicago Worlds Fair or the Columbian Exposition. It was intended to upstage the Eiffel Tower which was the main attraction from the 1889 Paris Exhibition. The Ferris Wheel was 264 feet and carried 2,160 people in 36 cars

Only pharaohs were allowed to eat mushrooms in ancient Egypt

It doesn’t matter how fresh-picked they are, coffee beans are actually tasteless until they’re roasted

For years, the pharmaceutical company Bayer held the trademark for the word “heroin” and sold the drug as a cough and headache remedy

Cousins Edwin Binney and C. Harold Smith introduced their first eight Crayola crayons in 1903 - In 1962, Crayola voluntarily changed Flesh to Peach in an attempt to avoid any legal issues and encourage people to embrace seeing the world in black and peach; Introduced in 1949, Prussian Blue was unceremoniously stripped of its name in 1958, after American teachers continued to voice concerns that the crayon wasn’t Cold War–sensitive - Crayola hoped the color’s new name, Midnight Blue, would help make it less political; Introduced in 1958, Indian Red was actually named for a pigment that originated in India - Over the years, teachers began to worry that children would see the crayon as a reference to American Indians’ skin color - In 1999, the Crayola company changed the name to Chestnut

In Japan, McDonald’s gave away 10,000 MP3 players, fully loaded with 10 free songs. Problem is, many of them were also loaded with a QQPass Trojan virus that captured user info and sent it to hackers as soon as it was plugged into a computer

In 1992, Pepsi offered 1 million pesos to anyone finding a bottlecap with 349 printed on it. The problem…half a million bottlecaps got printed with 349, which would have cost 18 billion dollars. Pepsi ended up paying winners $19.00, which still cost them ten million dollars. Some bottling plants were attacked, and many Pepsi execs had to leave the country

Competitors with nimble fingers have battled it out in a bra-removing contest at Chinese shopping mall. Participants each had to see how quickly they could unclasp eight bras, which were worn by models on a stage in Gungzhou city.  The models - who all had their hair tied up to allow easy access to their bra fastenings - stood in a line as countless men tried their luck.  The prize for the fastest time was 1,000 yuan. But the men were all put to shame by a woman who undid the eight bra clasps in just 21 seconds

Swiss clockmaker Artya announced in March the creation of a wristwatch set in fossilized dinosaur feces (with a strap made with skin from an American cane toad). Designer Yvan Arpa told the Associated Press the watch would sell for about $12,000 

A North Carolina research organization in March, picking the state's 10 worst destinations for federal stimulus grants, included two ongoing projects at Wake Forest University: long- term cocaine-addiction in monkeys and the potential benefits of yoga on menopausal hot flashes 

Child-Bearing, Explained: Virginia state legislator Bob Marshall, speaking in February in opposition to state funding for Planned Parenthood, said the organization is partly responsible for the number of disabled children in America. According to the Old Testament, he said, being forced to bear a disabled child is punishment for the mother's having earlier aborted her first-born

When stroke victims recover, they have sometimes acquired bizarre obsessions, like one by David Stopher of North Tynesdale, England, who found himself unable to say no to salespeople. According to a March Daily Mail report, the biggest beneficiary of Stopher's condition has been the wireless telephone network (known as 3), whose marketers had signed Stopher up for six different phones and plans, at the same time (and paid all on time until his brothers stepped in to persuade 3 to restructure the account) 

Intelligent Evolution: Researchers from Royal Roads University in Canada reported last year that the large, carnivorous pitcher plants of Borneo prefer to eat insects and spiders, but where those are in short supply, as in Philippines highlands, the pitchers have grown to a size accommodating an alternative source of the nitrogen
they need. The pitchers have "learned" that if they produce copious amounts of nectar, it will attract the tiny-mouse-sized tree shrew to harvest it, and the shrews, trapped inside the plant, will leave droppings directly on the spot most advantageous for the pitcher to consume them. Said Professor Charles Clarke, discovery of the arrangement "totally blew us away" 

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